PUF project

May 10, 2024

Program Unit Funding (PUF) is provided to school authorities/private operators for children with a severe disability or language delay who need more support than is offered in a regular early childhood services (ECS) program (Government of Alberta, 2023). Schools/operators apply for funding on the parent’s behalf which differs on age and years of eligibility dependent on if a child attends a public or private program. In a public program, funding is available for a maximum of two years between the ages of 2 years, 8 months to 4 years, 8 months during pre-kindergarten years. In private programs, funding is available for a maximum of three years between 2 years, 8 months to 6 years during pre-kindergarten and the kindergarten year. The intention of PUF is to help prepare children with disabilities for a successful transition into their kindergarten/elementary years. PUF requirements as described above is how the program is today in terms of eligible ages and time frames schools/operators can receive funding for children. However, it was not always this way.

In 2020, Alberta Education implemented a new funding model that changed these eligible ages and time frames for which children could receive funding, reduced base funding for some types of disability codes and changed how enrolment for funding purposes is calculated by introducing a weighted moving average projection (WMA). Before this, to calculate funding an actual student count was used, and funding was provided the same school year. However, under the new WMA funding, it projects enrolment based on 50% of the year ahead, 30% of the current enrolment at the budget time in February and then the previous year’s enrolment at 20% (Teghtmeyer, 2020). In 2020, the Alberta Teachers Association’s President Jason Schilling, stated that “the government is downplaying the effect of [the PUF cut], but teachers know that these kids benefit greatly from early interventions that will no longer be there. This cut is simply immoral” (Teghtmeyer, 2020). Several other changes occurred in 2020, one of which was the elimination of funding for the program for children entering kindergarten in public schools. For private ECS operators and schools, children can still access the third year of funding that must be used during the kindergarten year.

Another change in 2020 was that Alberta Health Services would no longer provide families with assessments, forcing families or childhood care/school operators to pay for private assessments. This change occurred due to the Alberta Government dissolving the Regional Collaborative Service Delivery (RCSD) which coordinated services between the departments of Education, Health, Children’s Services, and Community and Social Services. This had a significant impact that further strained the limited resources available to children, often requiring specialists to divert time, previously spent working directly with children, toward the significant task of assessment and additional report preparation. Other changes, such as coding criteria, funding amounts, and eligible supports will be discussed later in this report.

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Executive Assistant

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